“These days of fashion shows and activities in Brussels can open the way for Spanish design companies”
Interview with Pepa Bueno, ACME Executive Director.
Art historian, specialized in design history, she has developed her professional career in the field of women’s and fashion press. After passing through media such as Woman, Elle and Vogue Novias, among others, she was part of the launching team of Yo Dona (Unidad Editorial), where she held the position of Deputy Director for eight years. Since its arrival in ACME in 2013, she has boosted the entry of new partners and she has led numerous actions in and out of Spain to promote and raise awareness of the cultural and economic value of the fashion design of Spain. She has curated fashion shows, such as the three editions of Made in Spain: La mode au delà des frontières, at the residence of the Spanish Ambassador in Paris and teaches and lectures in various institutions. She is a member of the Fashion Committee of the MBFWM and is part of the “Fashion Roundtable”, constituted by the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness where the main actors of the sector are represented.
How did you start in the fashion industry?
It was a long, long time ago … At the early 1990’s I was responsible for the culture section of Elle magazine, since I originally studied History of Art. Step by step I moved to fashion topics in the magazine, and up to this day.
From your point of view, how is the image of Spanish fashion abroad? How do you think it has evolved in recent years?
The numbers are encouraging. In fact, the Spanish fashion industry exported garments and footwear worth 22,837,000,000 euros in 2016, 6.74% more than the previous year. And the largest European economies, France, Italy, Portugal, Germany and the United Kingdom represent 44.15% of these Spanish fashion sales abroad. Little by little the ‘ made in ‘ or ‘ designed ‘ in Spain gains prestige and relevance abroad, although there is still much to be done.
The Asociación Creadores de Moda de España (ACME) was founded in 1998 with the purpose of defending the interests of Spanish fashion designers. Modesto Lomba, Jesús del Pozo, Elio Berhanyer, Antonio Pernas, Angel Schlesser and Roberto Verino were its founders.
Since its beginning, the Association works primarily to defend the interests of Spanish fashion makers, offering tools to increase their competitiveness and acting as representative of the Spanish fashion design sector to public and private institutions and entities.
The Association carries out numerous activities to promote Spanish fashion at the national and international level: commercial, cultural, training, communication and social projects that have the participation of the members of the association.
What aspects do you think should be improved or boosted in the process of internationalization of Spanish fashion?
On the one hand, the issue of financing is very complicated and costly for small businesses. On the other hand, the visibility and external prestige of the Spanish brands should be treated as a matter of state. That is, if fashion contributes with 2.9% to the Spanish GDP, our politicians must take this sector seriously. Fashion is not only part of the culture of a country, it is also part of the economy. This year, the Association has conducted for the first time a report, which from now it will be done annually, Spanish fashion design, in figures. This report intends to be insightful with regards to ACME partners economic size: 5.580 high qualification working places and more than 405 million euros of turnover at aggregate level. Considering the data published by the largest Spanish fashion companies for the year 2015, if Acme Associates were a single company, it would be located as the sixth most important sector in Spain by turnover.
How does ACME emerge? What are the main actions carried out in Spain and abroad?
One of ACME’s most important periodic activities which regards the promotion of Spanish fashion abroad is the event Made in Spain: la mode au delà des frontiers. Coinciding with the Paris fashion week, the residence of the Ambassador of Spain in Paris hosts a sample of the latest creations of Spanish designers. Made in Spain: la mode au delà des frontiers is an innovative project that allows us to exhibit once a year in Paris, the capital fashion, a very relevant selection of national fashion in order to create networking and promote the Spanish designers.
On the other hand, and in the same promotional working line of the Spanish fashion abroad, ACME is an ICEX collaborator and channels the help provided by this body to the joint participation of the Spanish designers in the sales fairs that take place twice a year in the French capital.
What is Madrid es Moda and what is its main purpose?
In Spain, since September 2015, we organize an action called Madrid es Moda whose main objective is to overflow the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week and bring its spirit to the whole city. Madrid es Moda is a program of actions in which fashion and creation are protagonists. Our designers develop all kinds of activities in the center of Madrid during the days of the fashion week to provide more visibility in the center of the city to the event.
Do you think that the “fast fashion” phenomenon is affecting Spanish fashion? How?
The fast fashion has changed the way to consume fashion. Inditex has transformed the world fashion market. Zara’s business model is now the pattern by which all the great companies of the fashion world are governed. The consumer has been accustomed to go permanently to the store and find novelties, and wants to be able to buy clothes and accessories very often. Spain must take hold that it has been a Spanish company responsible for this revolution in the market. The fact is that now, what we should promote is another type of consumer, someone who prefers to buy a piece at a higher price for its design and quality; a type of consumer who supports originality and slow fashion, which is what the companies of fashion makers do.
How do you think the participation of Spain in the Brussels Fashion Days will influence the fashion industry of our country?
These days of fashion shows and activities in Brussels can make way for the national design companies in a relevant market as the Belgian. All the actions that promote the knowledge of the Spanish brands outside our borders are positive.
What actions of the Chamber of Commerce can help to disseminate Spanish fashion abroad?
Clearly these Brussels Fashion Days are one of them, but also putting our brands in contact with relevant international wholesalers, such as multi-brand stores, concept stores or department stores through business meetings or networking that would open possible exits to foreign markets…